Chronically ill veterans' enrollment in a remote monitoring program didn't significantly improve things for caregivers, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.
The research compared strain, burden and satisfaction of caregivers in two groups of patients: 121 veterans enrolled in remote monitoring and 128 veterans who were not. All the patients had either diabetes or heart failure.
The caregivers were unpaid family members who helped patients with tasks such as medication adherence, appointment scheduling, and in the case of those monitored, collecting and submitting data from devices.
The study measured employment, financial, physical, social and time strain on caregivers. The measure for burden looked at three factors: effect on social and personal life, psychological burden and feelings of guilt.
Hospitalization created high strain for both groups, and the remotely monitored veterans were significantly more likely to have one or more hospitalizations, the researchers found.
Both strain and burden were significantly associated with caregiver satisfaction. In addition, caregiver age and health, coping skills, depression and providing help with activities of daily living were factors associated with both strain and burden.
Veteran depression was also a major factor associated with burden; caregiving confidence and relationship quality with the veteran were others. Social support made a significant difference in caregiver satisfaction.
The authors urge training for caregivers on digital tools and care processes to help boost their confidence and help them learn coping skills.
Caregivers should be part of the patients’ clinic visits to be better informed, they say, but also for clinicians to determine if the caregiver needs referral to community services to help provide support.